Photo Credits: Nancy Shrum (circled photo), Brad Hittle (background photo), Background vector created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com
Some of Our 2021 Successes:
● Launched the 2021 Seven Bends Lecture Series: How Water Shapes the Valley, with four lectures being held remotely via zoom from February to May.
● Hosted two weeklong Summer Camp/Environmental Education Programs, River Rangers and River Players, for 1st through 8th graders this June, featuring environmental education and engaging outdoor activities to foster curiosity and love for nature in our community’s youth.
● Saw completion of the first two phases of development of River’s Way Natural Play Space & Outdoor Classroom at Seven Bends State Park. This grant effort has since sparked two more major community grants for the project, one from Lion’s Club of Woodstock, and a Rotary Regional Grant.
● Completed our second North Fork Conservation Corps, a 6-week program for teens with mentor-led outdoor education and community service projects at Seven Bends State Park. Teen groups constructed supports for ADA accessible fishing platforms along the Gokotta Trail at the park.
● Developed the North Fork Algae Watch Map to engage the community in capturing and communicating data about the state of the river throughout VDH’s Harmful Algal Bloom Advisory this summer.
● Certified 12 volunteers for Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring training with the Izaak Walton League, and began monitoring at 8 sites throughout the watershed.
● In partnership with the Northern Virginia Master Gardeners, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and Seven Bends State Park, secured a grant to expand the riparian buffer at Seven Bends State Park, Lupton entrance in December 2021. This expanded buffer will help to stabilize the bank, consolidate river access to reduce trampling of native species, and educate park-goers about the importance of riparian buffers and native species.
● Hosted three “Voices of the Shenandoah – In Story and Song” events at three local breweries with storytelling and live music this summer, providing a space for community members to connect around and celebrate their experiences and connections with the river.
Our Upcoming Work:
● Expansion of our Riparian Buffer Support Program, which in 2021 provided maintenance for 17 acres of recently planted buffers to help ensure their healthy establishment and their ability to boost water quality.
● Continuing our strong partnerships with local school systems and educators to get kids in streams, learning about and collecting data about water quality.
● Continuing to roll out online environmental education modules to provide virtual field trips and other learning experiences to students remotely.
● Expanding our Benthic MacroInvertebrate Citizen Science Monitoring Program to get a baseline of ecological health for the North Fork and its tributaries.
● Continuing to promote the health and beauty of Seven Bends State Park and the North Fork of the Shenandoah River through educational, recreational, and volunteer programming at the park.